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Judge John E. Turner (Ret.)

Olympia Car Accidents/Personal Injury/Criminal Defense Blog

Woman charged in hit-and-run

According to law enforcement officials, a woman from Pierce County in Washington has been charged with multiple counts related to drunk driving after colliding with three other vehicles. The 55-year-old woman has had previous DUI incidences.

Her charges include a hit-and-run accident with injury to another and assault in the third degree. She was also charged with driving with a suspended license in the third degree and the operation of a vehicle with no interlock device.

Safeguarding against distracted motorists

You may already know the dangers of driving while distracted. Many Olympia area motorists do, too. However, some of them are not using this knowledge to change their driving behaviors. They still operate their vehicles while performing other activities that make it challenging for them to stay focused on the roads.

Driving distractions can be just as deadly as drunk driving. Less awareness of a person's surroundings means an increase in driving errors. More driving errors lead to an increase in the number of injuries and fatalities that happen on the road every day.

State Supreme Court rules random testing unconstitutional

On Oct. 5, the Washington Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to require those who were accused of driving under the influence to submit to random urinalysis tests as a condition of their being released before trial. Three individuals had challenged the requirement for participation in random urinalysis testing, resulting in the case being brought before the court.

In 2015, the three were detained on suspicion of driving under the influence. As a condition of pretrial release, each person was ordered to participate in random urinalysis testing. They challenged the random tests, though the Spokane Superior Court denied their requests. When the case went before the state Supreme Court, the decision was reversed. The case was then sent back to the Superior Court.

How pedestrians can reduce the risk of being in accidents

Pedestrians, cyclists and motorists need to share the roadways safely. Unfortunately, many pedestrians end up getting hurt or worse when they are just trying to get from Point A to Point B. According to the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center, over 5,000 pedestrians died in car accidents in 2015 alone.

There are plenty of things motorists can do to reduce the likelihood of an accident. From avoiding driving while intoxicated to never getting distracted while behind the wheel, anyone operating a vehicle should take steps to be vigilant. However, there are steps pedestrians can take, too.

Possible drunk driver crashes through highway roadblock

Washington residents might like to know about an incident involving a wrong-way driver that necessitated roadblocks and ended with a crash in Mount Vernon. The event took place on Oct. 4 at around 4:10 a.m. in Whatcom County when a 1987 Pontiac Fiero headed south in the northbound lanes of I-5. The driver traveled the wrong way for 19 miles, and it is suspected that the motorist was inebriated at the time of the incident.

The driver was a 28-year-old man from Covington. The authorities reportedly tried to get the man to stop before deciding to establish a roadblock. The roadblock was erected near Kincaid Street but failed to stop the driver. The motorist drove through the roadblock and was finally stopped when crashing into a semi-truck and a Subaru.

Appealing a DUI conviction

Driving under the influence is an offense in Washington and the rest of the U.S. After a DUI conviction, however, an individual can appeal the case to a higher court (appellate court).

An attorney for the defendant (appellant) can ask the appellate court to review certain issues that happened in the lower court. The lawyer can bring up a substantive issue such as a motion to exclude confessions. Additionally, the attorney can raise a procedural issue like a guilty plea error.

Woman charged with DUI after driving down an embankment

On Sept. 13, a Washington woman was accused of drunk driving after she drove her vehicle over a 100-foot embankment. Her 1-year-old child was in the car when the incident occurred.

The woman was driving in Jose Rizal Park when the vehicle went over the embankment and landed in a patch of blackberries. Authorities arrived at the scene at 8 p.m. and saw a 34-year-old woman stumbling around on the hill. She reportedly told the authorities that she had confused the gas pedal for the brake pedal. Authorities reported that she smelled of alcohol and admitted to drinking.

What Washington residents should know about pretrial motions

In a DUI trial, there may be step between the preliminary hearing and the beginning of the trial. This is referred to as the pretrial motion, and it is the time when a defense attorney or prosecutor may ask to have certain evidence excluded or compel someone to testify. In some cases, a request may be made to drop the case at this point.

As a general rule, these motions are made in an effort to create boundaries for any trial that may take place. For instance, it may be decided during such a hearing that a legal argument cannot be made during trial. The court could also decide that certain testimony or evidence cannot be introduced when the case is heard. For instance, it may be possible to ask that a prior DUI conviction be inadmissible during a defendant's current case.

Man accused of DUI and assault on same day

On Aug. 30, Pierce County authorities reported that the same 30-year-old man was taken into custody twice. The Washington resident was accused of driving under the influence of alcohol for the first incident and for domestic violence assault for the second incident.

During the first alleged incident, deputies observed a man sitting in a truck in front of a house in Key Peninsula that was known for squatter activity due to being vacant. When the truck left, a deputy conducted a traffic stop on the man to talk to him. During the stop, the deputy alleged that the smell of intoxicants was present. When the driver was ordered to get out of the vehicle, the man dropped his phone and had his shorts fall down. He was ultimately taken into custody for DUI after tests confirmed that his blood alcohol content was well over the legal limit.

Obtaining reasonable suspicion for a traffic stop

In the state of Washington, police officers are only legally allowed to initiate traffic stops when there is reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. In fact, even DUI checkpoints, which are legal in 38 states, are illegal in Washington. However, if an officer does have the requisite reasonable suspicion, he or she can stop a motorist for a short period of time in order to conduct a limited investigation.

The reasonable suspicion criteria can be met by several observations. For example, an officer may have reasonable suspicion to pull a motorist over if he or she observed a motorist making an illegal turn, drifting between lanes or frequently braking. Other observations include stopping in the middle of the road for no reason, nearly striking other vehicles or objects and erratic or extremely slow driving. Further, an officer can investigate a potential drunk driving case further if the motorist was originally stopped for something completely unrelated, like a broken tail light or expired registration.